GfK findings for the first half of 2012 at the photokina trade fair
The global demand for smartphones continues unabated, in spite of the continued difficult economic climate prevailing in many countries. According to GfK, more than 650 million smartphones have been sold, representing an increase of around 50 percent year-on-year. This growth has disadvantaged feature phones in particular, which don’t have the versatility of a smartphone. This means that within the public there is growth in the level of ownership of multifunctional devices which among other features have a continuously improving capability for capturing still and moving images. These are findings from GfK on the market for telecommunications compiled for photokina 2012 in Cologne, Germany.
In western industrialized states, in particular, more and more customers are choosing smartphones over ordinary feature phones with proprietary operating systems. In many west European countries, significantly more smartphones than feature phones are already being sold, and so for manufacturers, this means that a range of attractive smartphones is an absolute must. On the other hand, if manufacturers position themselves in the dwindling feature phone market where the profit margins are also lower, they will come to a dead-end sooner or later. Added to this is the fact that, particularly in the case of the more expensive mobiles, consumers are almost exclusively buying smartphones. This means that smartphones costing in excess of €150 now account for at least 80 percent of global mobile phone sales.
Conversely, in the emerging economies and developing countries, more feature phones are still being sold at present. However, the share attributable to smartphones is growing at a significantly faster rate, since on the one hand, purchasing power in these countries is rising and on the other, there tends to be a burgeoning middle class. For example, in Latin America, during the first six months of this year, one in five mobile phones bought was a smartphone, compared with the prior year, when the figure was still one in seven. In Asia, over the same period, the smartphone share of mobile phones has leapt by 22 percent to its current level of 41 percent. In North, South and East Africa, too, the demand for all-singing, all-dancing electronic devices is also rising sharply and at present, just under one in seven cellphones sold in this region is a smartphone.
Today around four out of five mobile or smartphones sold around the world have a built-in camera, and their sales are moving steadily upwards. Particularly as a result of the need for smart allrounder cameras, sales of devices with an integrated camera function which can meet demanding requirements have been going up. For instance, the share of mobile phones with a resolution above five megapixels rose in the world market from 17 percent in the first half of 2011 to 27 percent a year later. In Europe, such devices even have a share of around 40 percent out of all the mobile and smartphones sold. Products that have recently been launched often have pixel values which are well over ten megapixels, and therefore in this respect are fully up to the standard of normal cameras. To complement them, and in order to deal with the lack of optical zoom, the accessory industry is now offering changeable lenses which makes it possible to improve the camera function of smartphones.
The fact that with smartphones, it is possible to upload still and moving images from anywhere into social networks is on the other hand a unique selling point for smartphones compared with the majority of digital cameras. A further function which is increasingly finding acceptance in smartphones is the possibility of exposing videoclips in HD quality. Developments are moving very fast. In Europe, the region which is leading the world, during the second quarter of 2012, one in six smartphones had this technology. A year earlier, its share was still under 3 percent.
Through its retail panel, GfK regularly gathers data on mobile phones and landline telephones, mobile broadband dongles, mobile phone accessories, radio devices, phone tariffs and mobile content such as games and ringtones in more than 90 countries around the world. This analysis is based on information on current developments in the mobile market for the first half of 2012.